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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 15, 2010

BUSINESS BRIEFS
Government data show solid recovery, but concerns remain


Associated Press

WASHINGTON The economy is being boosted by higher retail sales, stronger factory output and a rise in companies' stockpiles.

That picture emerged from reports yesterday pointing to an economy that's improving modestly but steadily after the worst recession in decades. Yet the recovery needs stronger job creation, and it remains under pressure from fears that Europe's debt crisis could slow the U.S. economy.

Consumers drove retail sales up 0.4 percent last month. Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, rose in the first three months of this year at the fastest pace in three years. Industrial production also climbed in April. Manufacturers have played a leading role in powering the recovery.

FEDS CONDUCTING CRIMINAL PROBE OF W.VA. MINE BLAST

WASHINGTON Federal prosecutors said yesterday they are investigating whether there was "willful criminal activity" by the company that operates the West Virginia mine where 29 workers died in an accident last month.

The U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of West Virginia said in a letter that investigators are looking into actions by the mine's operator, Performance Coal, and its directors, officers and agents.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, asks the Labor Department to hold off pursuing dozens of civil cases against Performance for alleged mine safety violations.

Performance is a subsidiary of Massey Energy Co., which owns the Upper Big Branch mine.

GOOGLE GRABS PERSONAL INFO OFF WI-FI NETWORKS

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. Google says it has scooped up snippets of people's online activities broadcast over unprotected Wi-Fi networks during the past four years.

The admission made yesterday is likely to raise more worries about potential privacy breaches as Google gathers volumes of personal information through its search engine and other services.

Google picked up fragments of e-mails and Web addresses while its cars were photographing neighborhoods for the "Street View" feature on its mapping service.